Merchant vessel rocked by explosion in Gulf of Oman, says British maritime body

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) has reported that a merchant vessel was struck by an explosion as it made way through the Gulf of Oman on Thursday evening.

“Investigations are ongoing. Vessel and crew are safe,” the UKMTO’s advisory notice said on Friday. The organization said the incident happened at 20:40 GMT on Thursday, but it did not provide any details on the cause of the explosion. 

The organization says that the incident took place 44 nautical miles north of Muscat, the Omani capital. “Vessels transiting the area are advised to exercise caution,” the notice added. 

Coalition Task Force Sentinel, the operational arm of the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC), a Bahrain-based military alliance led by US and UK naval commanders in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, confirmed the report and said it was monitoring the situation.

The group, which is comprised of eight member nations including the US, UK, UAE, and Saudi Arabia, said that the explosion occurred on a non-IMSC vessel which would continue sailing until it reached its next port of call.

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While the Gulf of Oman has historically been a hotbed for piracy, the IMSC insisted in January that the threat to merchant vessels remained low. However, concerns have been raised in the wider region and the Persian Gulf following the seizure of South Korean-flagged tanker the Hankuk Chemi in December by Iranian forces just north of Oman’s Musandam Peninsula.

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